The Army’s new specialist border protection vehicle
defenceWeb today publishes photographs of the Army’s new “mobility package” for the first time. Based on a Toyota Landcruiser chassis, engine and drivetrain the “mobility package” will boost the ability of soldiers deployed on border protection duty to get to trouble spots quicker. The logistic variant will also ensure easier resupplying of essentials such as fuel, water, rations and ammunition and the ambulance variant speaks for itself. The development of the specialist vehicles has been in-house with the SA National Defence Force’s Joint Operations Division in the lead with support from the Logistics and Signals formations as well as SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). The other major contributor has been the defence, peace, safety and security division of the CSIR which worked with the project officer and team on components such as the vehicle’s roll cage, its stability as well as testing at Armscor’s Gerotek vehicle testing site west of Pretoria. The procurement has now reached the stage where the SA Army’s Infantry School in Oudtshoorn is readying itself to receive the first “trooppacks”, as the troop carriers have been christened, for training. Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, Staff officer, Operational Communication at Joint Operations Division, explains that before the new vehicles can be put into service people have to be instructed on how to handle then properly. This will be done at Infantry School and then the necessary supporting documents will be supplied to the SA Army Infantry Formation and its Reserve Force unit for hands-on training. Only once this is complete will the first of the new vehicles be deployed, with the Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal borders earmarked as the first recipients.
“The new vehicles will be deployed on a tactical and practical basis to replace the older 4x4s, some of which have been in service since 2003 and have clocked up more than half a million kilometres,” Paxton said. Planning is for 257 complete mobility packages to be in the SA Army vehicle inventory by the end of the current financial year,” he said adding the project to develop them had been an in-house one, driven by the Joint Operations Division with input from the Logistics and Signals formations as well as SAMHS. The mobility package, as yet, hasn’t been given a military name, and it will only be supplied in four variants – troop carrier, logistics, command and control and ambulance. “The trooppack carries half a stick – five soldiers – and an extra seat is provided for use by a ranger, tracker or policeman. The logistic variant will be used for infield replenishment of items such as fuel, water, ammunition, rations and medical supplies while the command and control variant will be a roving unit with a communications suite including radios and mobile phones,” he said. At company level, 27 the maximum deployment will be 18 troop carriers and three each of logistic, command and control and ambulances.